Egyptian Journalists Say The Government Blocked Websites To Silence Unfavorable Coverage
“The state simply wants to have full control over all the media until the elections are over.”
Egyptian authorities have blocked nearly two dozen news websites, targeting publications that have been critical of the government, a move local journalists say is aimed at controlling the coverage of the regime ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
The country’s state-run news agency MENA announced on Wednesday that 21 websites were being blocked in the country because they were “supporting terrorism and extremism” and “spreading lies.” Egypt’s independent news site Mada Masr, Qatar-run news channel Al Jazeera, HuffPost’s Arabic edition, and local Egyptian publications like Araby21, Rassd, and Egypt Window are among the websites that have been banned.
“This is not the typical Egyptian regime attitude,” Lina Attalah, the editor-in-chief of Mada Masr told BuzzFeed News in an interview in Cairo. “We are used to facing troubles with the regime since we have always chosen to write the stories they don’t like to hear. We are used to being arrested or have cases filed against us, but blocking us is a new thing.” Mada Masr, since its founding in 2013, has regularly published critical stories of the regime in both English and Arabic.
The blocking of the websites comes one day after the arrest of prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali, who had announced his intent to run as a candidate against President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in the 2018 presidential elections. Authorities in Egypt have targeted activists from Ali’s Aish We Horreiya — “Bread and Liberty” — party, and arrested at least 36 people in 17 cities throughout the country from five opposition parties and political youth groups. Many of the arrested have been accused them of insulting Sisi on social media platforms.